Over the years, we have experienced the perks of social media; and witnessed events of reunions of long-lost friends on sites like Facebook. The fact is beyond question that Social media like Facebook and Twitter have helped in making the world a global village. It has provided a quick and easy way to communicate with family, friends and to the people in general across the world. But it also has a darker aspect.
Social media has reduced the face to face interaction of the individuals. As Samantha Rosenblum noted in the Psychology Today article on May 9, 2014 that studies show a positive relationship between increased times spent on social media and certain disorders. Thus, longer time an individual spends on social media sites, the greater are the chances of behavioral and eating disorders. Behavioral consequences include inferiority complex, and trying to keep up with one’s own appearances on social media after comparing oneself to peers. Increased eating disorder is also seen which is linked to behavioral disorder and body related comparisons.
According to a study, author Pamela Keel, professor of psychology and director of clinical training at Florida State University, Facebook gives an opportunity to its users to carefully choose the content they are going to post i.e., photos or status updates. Subsequently, if users get inspired or compare themselves to their peers on Facebook, they do not compare to the way their peers actually are, but instead to a glorified version of them. Unfortunately, there are also real-life tragic examples of this fact.
The Social Comparison Theory states that we are more influenced by comparisons made with those we perceive as being more similar to ourselves (Rosenblum, 2014). Before internet and social media became common, idealism was mostly confined to celebrities from TV, news channels or movies. Although people still idealize them, yet a large part of ideal image also comes from peer group or friends now; which is even more hazardous because it puts greater influence on individuals.
It’s not easy to separate truth from reality on social media like Twitter and Facebook. Appearing favorably before the world is the understood desire of everyone because that is demand of society; people want approval of others and no one wants to show off their problems on social media. But it must be food of thought and of greater concern that how easily these things can manipulate minds of people; considering the fact figures as mentioned by Bianca London in Mail Online article on 23 July, 2012 that majority of users affected are teenagers and people in their twenties; while, one-third of people in the middle age group are influenced by it.
Face to face interaction should be encouraged, because if a person feels less loved from their significant others, then he or she would seek it through Facebook or Twitter interactions and feedback. Experts say that keeping a positive view of oneself can help cope with the complexities, along with a controlled use of Facebook and Twitter. Studies show that if people are willing enough to say something good about themselves, it makes other people follow suit and think positive about them.
London, B. (2012, July 23). Keeping up with the Joneses: Comparing ourselves to our Facebook friends now at a whole new level. Mail Online. Retrieved from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2177734/Keeping-Joneses-Comparing-Facebook-friends-new-level.html
Rosenblum, S. (2014, July 09). Keeping Up With Appearances. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brainstorm/201405/keeping-appearances